EC gives green light to Dutch Open Cable

February 11, 2009 | 05:46 UK

The European Commission has given the green light to Dutch telecoms regulator OPTA to open up the country’s cable TV market. Alternative telecom operator Tele 2 has already announced it plans to offer an alternative analogue cable TV bouquet on UPC and Ziggo after the summer.

OPTA plans to introduce the rules for third party access to the four largest cable operators in the country – Ziggo, UPC, Delta and CAIW – to open up their digital networks to third parties. UPC and Ziggo will also be forced to open up their analogue networks. The regulator expects to have regulation ready in time for new providers to start offering services at the end of the year.

OPTA chairman Chris Fontein said in a statement: “With access to the networks of the major players of the Netherlands, cable companies UPC and Ziggo on the one hand, and KPN on the other, competition is promoted and innovation encouraged. At the end of last year, we have insured open access to fibre networks of KPN Reggefiber.”

The European Commissioner Vivienne Reding said in a statement: “I fully support the view of the Dutch telecoms regulator OPTA that more competition is needed in this important market.”

Shortly after the decision was made public, UPC issued the following statement: “We understand that the European Commission has chosen to send back the OPTA ruling to the national legislature. UPC will again present its objections to this measure. In our view, the Dutch television and communications is one of the most competitive in Europe and no new legislation is needed. ”

Alternative telecom and IPTV provider Tele2 was quick to announce it plans to offer analogue cable TV bouquets over the UPC and Ziggo networks. OPTA also said the new parties who will offer analogue and digital bouquets will need to clear all copyrights themselves as well as close distribition contracts with the broadcasters. Interestingly, the Dutch incumbent KPN is barred from access to the cable infrastructure.

Cable Europe also expressed disappointment at a European Commission decision to allow OPTA to impose new regulatory rules on cable operators.

The trade body will monitor closely how the proposed measures will be applied in The Netherlands.